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Thursday, July 07, 2011

L2 writing and ideology

When I was doing my MA at Humboldt, we read my professor Terry Santos' article "Ideology in Composition: L1 and ESL." I didn't realize at the time that it was written in 1992, and that the "ideological turn" in TESOL was actually just about to occur; in fact, don't quote me on this, but you could partly date the turn to people who did their PhDs at OISE in the 90s, several of whom are my profs at UBC now.

While Santos' 1992 paper certainly no longer describes the field as it once was, I still have a great fondness for her 2001 followup, "the Place of Politics in Second Language Writing." What I like so much about the paper is that it is not afraid to say those things which are often caricatured by those on the 'critical' side as "tacit" or "hidden" mainstream ideologies. Note this:

"...as one who supports the mainstream in applied linguistics and L2 writing, it has been interesting to me to reflect on why the positions of critical applied linguistics, critical pedagogy, and critical EAP and L2 writing remain wholly unrepresentative of my intellectual perspectives, professional experiences, observations of student needs and preferences, and general worldview. Also, as an adherent of centrism and pragmatism...critical approaches seem to me extreme -- extreme in terms of the mainstream -- as well as out of touch with the reality I see of people in schools and universities actually living their lives, at least in the United States and other countries I have lived, worked, and traveled in....I find myself not only in disagreement with both the theoretical positions and pedagogical recommendations they espouse, but in closer embrace of pragmatism, vulgar or otherwise, as a far more satisfying approach to TESOL, EAP, and L2 writing, and, for that matter, everyday life."

Wow.

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